Black at one time meant wise
Black cat at one time was good luck
Black witch at one time meant wise one
Dark is part of light
There is sacred knowledge in the opposite of superstition. There is mystery in the opposite of fear. There is grandeur in the opposite of luck. Let’s explore the ancient symbol of the Black Cat this Halloween.
Most folks know Samhain as Halloween, but for many modern Pagans, Samhain is considered a Sabbat to honor the ancestors who came before us, marking the dark time of the year. It’s an excellent time to contact the spirit world with a seance because it’s the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.
The ancient Egyptians honored cats of every color. Cats were mighty and strong, and held sacred. Two of the most amazing goddesses in the Egyptian pantheon were Bast and Sekhmet, worshiped as long ago as 3000 b.c.e. Family cats were adorned with jewelry and fancy collars, and even had pierced ears. If a cat died, the entire family went into mourning, and sent the cat off to the next world with a great ceremony. For thousands of years, the cat held a position of divinity in Egypt.
Did You Know?
- As an early war goddess, Bastet was portrayed as a lioness, or as a woman’s body with a lioness’ head.
- Bastet evolved over the centuries into a goddess who protected mothers and their newborn children.
- Her annual festival was a huge event, with singing, dancing, and sacrifices; as many as half a million worshipers attended.
Touch Not the Cat
In many societies and cultures, it was believed that a surefire way to bring misfortune into your life was to deliberately harm a cat. An old sailors’ tale cautions against throwing the ship’s cat overboard–the superstition said that this would practically guarantee stormy seas, rough wind, and possibly even a sinking, or at the very least, drownings. Of course, keeping cats on board had a practical purpose, as well–it kept the rat population down to a manageable level.
In some mountain communities, it is believed that if a farmer killed a cat, his cattle or livestock would sicken and die. In other areas, there’s a legend that cat-killing will bring about weak or dying crops.
In Japan, the maneki-neko is a cat figurine who brings good luck into your home. Typically made of ceramic, the maneki-neko is also called the Beckoning Cat or Happy Cat. His upraised paw is a sign of welcome. It is believed that the raised paw draws money and fortune to your home, and the paw held next to the body helps keep it there. Maneki-neko is often found in feng shui.
The Witches Familiar
Around the time of the Middle Ages, the cat became associated with witches and witchcraft. Around the late 1300’s, a group of witches in France were accused of worshipping the Devil in the form of a cat. It may be because of the cat’s nocturnal nature that it became connected to witches — after all, night time was the time they held their meetings, as far as the church was concerned.
“In the 1500s, there arose the belief that witches could shape-shift themselves into the form of black cats so they could roam freely about the country wrecking havoc and spying on people… The belief that witches could turn themselves into black cats crossed the Atlantic with the first American settlers and was a firmly-held superstition in New England by the time of the Salem witch hunts.”
Schlosser goes on to say that spooky stories about black cats became popular in the Southern United States as settlers migrated. Many frightening Southern folktales like the Black Cat’s Message and Wait Until Emmet Comes include ethereal and mysterious black cats who might just be witches or demons in disguise. In addition, a common seafaring superstition was that if a black cat walked onto a ship and then walked off again, the ship was doomed to sink on its next voyage.
Around the time of World War Two, when the American tradition of Halloween as trick-or-treat time really got underway, cats became a big part of the holiday decoration. This time around, however, they were considered a good luck charm — a black cat at your door would scare away any evil critters that might come a’calling.”
Animals are great teachers, and cats sense danger and respond in a more sensitive way than the dog, to whom is considered the one who guards the home. However, dogs are great field workers, it is the cat who holds the sacred knowledge of ‘the witch’ because of it’s agility, stealth, and cunning hunting abilities. Explore your inner self, maybe you will find your spirit animal. Maybe it is a cat! Have a safe and happy halloween. ❤
This Month’s affirmation: Remain curious and aware as a cat on this walk called life.